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Environment

'Unprecedented' Flooding Has Killed at Least 250 in Northern India & Left Thousands More Starving

Villagers stand inside their house destroyed by floodwaters at Katihar district, in the eastern Indian state of Bihar, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017. Photo: Aftab Alam Siddiqui/AP

India is experiencing a deadly rainy season.

At least 250 people and 150 animals have died in India’s Bihar state since July, after flooding caused by heavy rains “destroyed crops and swept away houses and roads,” Al Jazeera reports.  

For those who have survived but been evacuated, food has become scarce. 

Located in the northeastern-most part of India, Bihar was also affected by the fallout from monsoon rains that hit Nepal and Bangladesh this past week

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To date during this year’s monsoon season, which lasts from July to September, nearly 700,000 people have been evacuated from Bihar and 250 have died, according to the state’s Disaster Management Department. The worst hit region, Araria, has seen more than 50 deaths, including 15 during a 24-hour period between Aug. 19-20. 

“Thousands of people are living on the highway for more than a week now,” one Araria resident, Ashish Ranjan, told Al Jazeera

The state government has opened over 1,300 relief camps serving 400,000 people, according to the Al Jazeera report. The Indian government has also sent in 28 National Disaster Response Force teams to the region, according to India today. Furthermore, 2,569 community kitchens across the state have provided food to nearly 5 lakh (500,000) people.

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Despite the national and local response to the crisis, hunger is widespread, according to residents who spoke with Al Jazeera. 

“Milk is not available for kids, and basic amenities are lacking,” Bihar resident Nazrul Islam said. “People are eating one time instead of three times a day as the remote areas still remain disconnected from the district headquarters,” 

Bihar is one of the poorest regions of India, Al Jazeera reports, and houses are “mostly made from tin-sheet and bamboo.” 

Now, on account of this, “villages after villages have been washed away,” Maulana Asrar-ul-Haq Qasmi, a member of parliament from Kishangunj, told Al Jazeera. 

The Global Goals for Sustainable Development aim for zero poverty by 2030, but as climate change intensifies, the world’s poorest regions will be increasingly subjected to extreme weather patterns that threaten to displace up to 2 billion people by 2100. 

The flooding across South Asia shows the staggering human toll of these weather patterns.